Peck Exits Gap

After an almost 15-year run at Gap Inc., which included four years as its president and chief executive officer, Art Peck is leaving the giant specialty retailer. The San Francisco–based company’s board of directors announced Nov. 7 that Peck will step down from his leadership position and from the company’s board.

Peck will leave the company after a brief transition, according to a Gap statement. Assuming responsibilities as president and chief executive officer on an interim basis will be Robert J. Fisher. He is the company’s current non-executive chairman of the board and son of Gap Inc. founders Donald and Doris Fisher. Peck helped pave the road to Gap’s future, Robert Fisher said.

“On behalf of the entire board, I want to thank Art for his many contributions to Gap Inc., spanning a nearly 15-year career with the company,” Fisher said. “Under Art’s tenure as CEO, we have made progress investing in capabilities that bode well for the future such as expanding the omni-channel customer experience and building our digital capabilities.”

Peck’s tenure was marked by the skyrocketing success of the company’s Old Navy division. It was announced earlier this year that Old Navy will be spun off into a separate, publicly traded company. The past four years also were marked by sales for the Gap and Banana Republic divisions seeming to settle into a permanent state of doldrums. Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of market researchers RSR Research, said that while Peck was a distinguished executive he did not have what Gap Inc. needed.

“The guy’s background is in management consulting. What Gap really needed was a merchant,” Rosenblum said. “They needed to reduce stores. That wasn’t rocket science. But it is a specialty store, and when a specialty-store product doesn’t look much different than Target, you have to ask, ‘Why does this exist?’”

Gap recently observed its 50th anniversary. When it started business in 1969, it embraced the hippie style of its hometown San Francisco and soon became known as a jeans-focused retailer.